AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find inner peace

ALULA: The mystical land of AlUla has become a major attraction for those seeking wellness, with the 2022 edition of the AlUla Wellness Festival in full swing.

The festival offers a variety of sessions for participants to have different experiences, focusing on mental and physical well-being. Khaled Nahfawi, yoga and meditation instructor and sound therapist at the festival, tells Arab News that he discovered yoga in India. “Yoga was my first introduction to meditation. It is the mainstay of meditation and helps to enter a meditative state,” he says.

“When I went to India, I just practiced it, and noticed that it really helped me calm down. Little by little, I became a certified instructor.” According to Nahfawi, people who have never meditated will never understand what it feels like until they experience it. “It’s like trying to explain the taste of sugar to an alien,” he jokes.

The festival was created to make visitors feel soothed, bathed in flowing water and calm music. Greenery, pleasing to the eye, springs from the velvety sands of AlUla, and the architecture is soft and inviting; there are no austere buildings, in an environment dominated by wood.

Five Senses Sanctuary is back for its second edition, and Mr. Nahfawi says it offers a rich program featuring talented instructors and practitioners. “I strongly encourage everyone to come visit and experience it for themselves,” he adds.

For a more specific type of meditation, sound therapist Valentina Adveeva sat on the roof of a building with a circular musical instrument, a hand pan, played with one finger. The resonant music it produces helps participants connect with each other and create music in harmony. Ms Adveeva explains that the hand pan is a very young instrument that when played creates the same frequency as water and the heart.

“When you play this instrument you release your feelings and emotions and you feel very open. It is not only used for meditation, you can simply play it to make music”, she underlines. “You are focused on yourself, you enjoy harmony, you just enjoy your life, and you generally feel good. This is what we aspire to in meditation.”

Valentina Adveeva taught visitors how to play the handpan. (AN photo by Abdelrahmane Binshalhoub)

Among the workshops that stood out, we can cite the session of spoken word which brought together three forms of art: music, dance and poetry. Raghad Fatahadine wrote poems and then read them to an audience, while his friend Bilal Allaf performed an elaborate interpretive dance.

The poems deal with the meaning of life, the place one should occupy in the world, and the dancer expresses the emotions that are conveyed rather than the words that are spoken. “I wouldn’t say it’s a coincidence, because nothing is a coincidence, but that’s how I felt. The poems I wrote didn’t go through the writing process. I didn’t give much thought to writing. The ideas came to me, I felt like I received them.”

She then shared her poems with her friend Bilal Allaf, who volunteered to perform each of them in dance form. When they performed the poems in front of audiences, the audiences remained silent, which encouraged the couple to work together and share their work with more people.

Raghad Fatahadine wrote poems and then read them to an audience, while his friend Bilal Allaf performed an elaborate interpretive dance. (AN photo by Abdelrahmane Binshalhoub)

“We react differently to things; sometimes the words are too heavy for some, because they may never have heard them before,” notes Ms. Fatahadine. “If the words are too complicated, you can still listen to the music or watch the movements and feel something.”

“Bringing it all together makes for a holistic experience. We try to create a space that invites people to enter a specific state and make deeper connections with each other.”

Five Senses Sanctuary will continue to welcome visitors until October 8, and the festival will continue until October 16.

This text is the translation of an article published on

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AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find inner peace

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